TALLADEGA, Ala. – Despite Saturday’s fred’s 250 powered by Coca-Cola being a race that Chase contenders in the field need to win in order to advance, it was non-Chase driver Cole Custer who picked up the Coors Light Pole Award during the morning qualifying session.
Custer drove his No. 00 OneMain Financial Chevrolet Silverado to a lap of 53.672 seconds (178.417 mph) in the second and final round, topping the dozen drivers who advanced to the run for the pole and securing the top starting position for the 250-mile race (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM).
The effort is his fifth career series pole in his 38th series start, marks his second pole of the season and comes in his Talladega debut.
“Our guys did a great job with the truck; they worked really hard on it,” Custer said. “I just have to thank (crew chief) Marcus Richmond, though … he’s a speedway wizard with these things and he’s won the last few races here, so he knows his stuff. I think we’ll have a really good truck for the race and we’ll just have to do our best to stay up front. That’s all you can do at these places.”
Custer led a Chevrolet sweep of the top five positions, with Daytona pole winner Grant Enfinger (53.683/178.380) slotting in on the front row with the second-fastest time in the final round.
Enfinger’s GMS Racing teammates – Spencer Gallagher, Ben Kennedy and Johnny Sauter – completed the Fast Five.
Round one leader Timothy Peters was sixth ahead of Cody Coughlin, points leader William Byron, John Wes Townley, Korbin Forrister, John Hunter Nemechek and Matt Tifft among the 12 drivers who made the final knockout round.
Two-time champion Matt Crafton was the first man eliminated in the opening round and will start 13th (54.448/175.874) in his No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra.
Christopher Bell (14th) was also knocked out in the opening round, as were all three Brad Keselowski Racing Ford F-150s. Austin Cindric, Tyler Reddick and Daniel Hemric will start 15th through 17th, respectively.
With 36 trucks attempting to qualify, Clay Greenfield, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Ryan Ellis and Parker Kligerman were the four drivers who failed to make the starting field.